Going to a relaxing zone in a natural park such as the river, waterfall, lake of garden with virtual reality and doing relaxing exercises supported by a relaxing narrative effectively reduces stress and anxiety. Virtual reality showed better improvements than video or audio although the latter two also reduced stress and anxiety.
We found a significant difference between the three conditions and an interaction effect between time and condition for participant’s ability to reduce their heart rate (HR). Specifically, participants in the VR condition were better at reducing their HR and significantly improved their emotional state during experimental sessions as well as the follow-up sessions. About the anxiety subjective self-report scores, we found a significant difference between groups and in particular Video condition achieved better results, compared to VR and Audio groups.
This could be a new way for mental health care to provide easily accessible and cost effective services.
Villani, D., & Riva, G. (2011). Does Interactive Media Enhance the Management of Stress? Suggestions from a Controlled Study Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0141